Talk to your kids now and they may talk to you later


Talk to your kids now Talk to your kids now and they may talk to you later.

One of the most common complaints from parents is that they feel they can’t talk to their kids and their kids won’t talk to them and it’s pretty safe to say that it’s because the parents and the kids had never really talked before.  They’ll talk at them but not with them. 

Parents are always telling their kids to do things and to not do things and when parents do try to talk with their kids, it’s because something has happened and it’s usually bad.  If you’ve never talked with your kids before, what makes you think they’ll want to talk to you now?  

The old expression “children are to be seen and not heard” is so out of date and can easily be a major reason why kids act out.

As soon as they learn to speak, you should start talking with them.  Ask them real questions along with the standard “what does the cow say” type of questions.  Ask them how they like doing something or if they enjoy doing a particular activity.  It won’t take long to discover what interests they have as they get older. 

The trick however is not to ask them open-ended questions. 

An example of an open-ended question is “what would you like to do now?”  A better question would be “would you like to play a board game or do a craft?”  This allows you to give them a choice while still having some control over what that would be.

As they get older start asking them more specific questions.  Instead of asking them what they did at school today; ask them what they are studying in geography class.  If they are studying a certain country, ask them about it.  You don’t need an in-depth report, just the interesting highlights.   You can also ask them if they even like geography.  You’re not interrogating them, you just want to open a line of communication with them and you may just learn what interests them. 

Ask them about their friends.  How are they doing?  If you’ve seen and spoken to their parents at the store, tell your kids about it and ask if they hang around with their kids or see them at all at school.  You may be surprised about what you learn about the people that your kids are exposed to. 

Ask them if they’ve seen any funny videos online and they may just share it with you.  You may think it’s dumb and childish but the important thing is that they are sharing something with you and if you’ve seen something that’s goofy and entertaining, share it with them.  This is a great way to open a line of communication with your kid without them even realizing it. 

Keep the conversations light and try not to come across as you’re trying to analyze them.  The idea is to make them feel comfortable talking with you.  If they do, they may just want to talk to you when there is something serious.

Of course, there is no guarantee that that will happen but at least you’ve shown them that if they want and need to, you are there to listen. 

When they do want to discuss something serious with you, it’s really easy for parents to revert to the “I was never like that” or the “I never did anything like that” attitude.  Keep in mind that you are not your kids and your kids are not you. 

Each generation has different challenges, attitudes and sometimes values.  Each person is different and this is not a time to be judgemental.  As soon as you start challenging them, they may become defensive and stop talking to you all together and that could be a problem.

There is no tried and true way of knowing when to question and when to just listen.  You need to pay attention and be prepared because you’ll never know when they’ll want to talk and if you don’t talk to them now, they may not want to talk to you later.

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Cate Busch
Special to What To Do With The Kids

 

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